Press Release of Senator Sessions
Sen. Sessions Sponsors Bipartisan Bill To Reduce Prison Rape
Thursday, June 13, 2002
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) today joined Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)and two congressmen to introduce legislation that would reduce the rape of inmates in America's prisons.
The lawmakers, including Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), held a news conference to announce the introduction of the Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002 in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
"Prison rape cannot be tolerated," said Sessions, a former federal prosecutor, Alabama Attorney General and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Whether you're a liberal like Ted Kennedy or a conservative like Jeff Sessions, we all agree that punishment for a criminal defendant should be set by a judge and should not include rape."
The bill would establish a bipartisan National Commission to study prison rape at the federal, state and local levels. Within two years, the commission would publish the results of its study and make recommendations on how to reduce prison rape.
The legislation also would direct the Attorney General to issue a rule for the reduction of prison rape in federal prisons. To avoid a 20% reduction in certain federal funds, each state would have to pass a statute that either adopts the standards or rejects the standards for state prisons.
"This bill contains no unfunded mandate to order states how to deal with prison rape. It does, however, make them address the issue head on." Sessions said.
The bill also would require the Department of Justice to conduct statistical surveys on prison rape for federal, state, and local prisons and jails. The department would select officials in charge of certain prisons with an incidence of prison rape exceeding the national average by 30% to come to Washington and testify to the department about the prison rape problem in their institution.
"We hope the estimates of the amount of prison rape are exaggerated, but any is too much," Sessions said. "Prisoners ought not to be subjected to this kind of abuse. The bipartisan support of this bill from both sides of Capitol Hill and from groups as diverse as Prison Fellowship and the NAACP gives me confidence that this legislation will be passed."